x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Carling Cup is Hughes' target

The Manchester City manager aims to end the club's 33-year wait for silverware by focusing on the Carling Cup.

ABU DHABI // Having charged into fourth-place in the Premier League, the Manchester City manager Mark Hughes - who was still at school when City last won a major domestic trophy, the 1976 League Cup - has prioritised ending the club's 33-year wait for silverware. "We've started really brightly and we've been able to win games quickly. That was important for our confidence as a team and as the new group of players," said Hughes.

"Our immediate aim is to be successful this year, and ideally we would love to achieve something tangible. That would be winning a trophy of some kind." In a fortnight's time, City play Championship side Scunthorpe for a place in the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup. Hughes admits the competition, which offers a direct route into the Europa League, is top of the club's agenda. "We've got Scunthorpe in a couple of weeks, which will take us into the last eight of a domestic competition," he said.

"We have high hopes and we are going to give it our best shot. I thought it was important to play strong teams in the early rounds and now we look like we can go close. "If we can get the experience of winning a trophy, it will help us as a team, and a group, because we'll have an understanding of what it takes to win things. "As a group, we haven't had that yet and if it can happen - sooner rather that later - it will help us in seasons to come," added Hughes.

While many of City's impressive collection of recent signings have won numerous accolades at their previous clubs, Hughes says that honing a collective winning mentality is the key to the club's immediate success. "We have a winning mentality [among some players] within the group, but maybe not as a group," he said. "The amount of trophies and titles the players have achieved [individually] is something like 78. We have a really experienced group but we need to win together."

On the back of several strong showings in the league, Hughes is confident that a prolonged cup run can maintain City's early-season momentum. He is not, however, expecting an easy ride. "We feel we are playing well and the more confidence we have the better," Hughes added. "I've always been of the opinion that good cup runs don't hamper league form, they enhance it. We'd like to think we'll be going close to the trophy, but there are a number of clubs who realise the top four league positions are beyond them and they focus [on the cups] to get into Europe.

"The Carling Cup is a stronger trophy now that it has been in recent years. "It had been easier to win, but that is changing now." emegson@thenational.ae